Businesses with SEO strategies in place might wonder how an affiliate program affects their SERP position. They might wonder if affiliate links could cause their rankings to drop. Some might even think of how their audience will receive affiliate links.
Affiliate marketing is a viable way of building authority and earning more revenue for your business. Search engine optimization and affiliate marketing both aim to direct high-quality traffic to websites. Although their methods are different, they are complementary—it's possible to balance your SEO and affiliate marketing efforts. Here are four ways you can do that.
If your affiliate marketing strategy consists of pushing various products only slightly connected to your business, you're setting yourself up for failure. The traffic you generate on these links could affect your bounce rate. Google has guidelines on affiliate content. According to them, pure or thin affiliate websites do not provide much value and could even create a negative user experience. They also provide examples of thin affiliates. According to Google, examples of thin affiliates include:
One way of avoiding linking to "thin" affiliate websites is by researching your possible partners. Start with brands you already follow or companies with which you do business. Your affiliate partners, ideally, would be businesses that others consider as authoritative sources. These companies are likely to have more content on their website than just the products they have in their affiliate program.
Using affiliate links in itself is unlikely to harm your SEO efforts. What could hurt your rankings is linking to poor-quality domains. Google sees affiliate marketing as a viable strategy; using affiliate links once in a while, especially in ways that would benefit visitors to your website, wouldn't hurt your chances of rising in SERPs.
One reason affiliate marketing efforts clash with SEO is that a business might have too many affiliate partners. If you are trying to sell many things from various categories, it would be impossible to align your content. For example, suppose your partners were an SEO platform and service, a web hosting provider, a wine subscription, and a company selling pet grooming kits. Finding topics to accommodate all of them is impossible. Forget thinking about reader journeys through posts—it will be a challenge thinking of reader journeys through paragraphs!
Having four very different partners also means driving a targeted audience to your website will be more difficult. Although your search rankings might be good for one or two keywords, you could struggle to direct visitors to others, even those related to your business.
Instead of promoting everything you find interesting, focus on one or two profitable niches. Choosing ones you are knowledgeable about would help, especially if you are making content that incorporates affiliate products or services. If your niche does not have affiliate programs with good ROI, you can choose businesses outside your interests. Just keep in mind to focus on only one or two affiliate partnerships at a time.
Keyword planning is essential in SEO, but it is even more critical when selling products that belong to other companies. Generally speaking, keyword selection for SEO and affiliate marketing use the same principles. Keywords shouldn't be too competitive, but they should still have a good search volume. Long-tail keywords are better since they provide more detail and they can help focus your article.
Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are free tools that can help you create a keyword strategy. Keyword Planner can display search volume information using a range of filters, while Trends provides an overview on the changes in interest for search terms. Both of these tools let you filter results by time frame and region. Besides other popular options like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Answer the Public, there is also LongTailPro, which helps you look at both long-tail keywords and competitors' keywords, and SpyFu, which provides ranking and advertiser history in addition to keyword search volume and backlinks.
The quality of your backlinks greatly affects your site authority. Authoritativeness, in turn, affects your search rankings. Earning backlinks from sites relevant to your affiliate products will help you generate the signals you need. Driving content shares also helps, although shares and comments on social media alone won't drive revenue.
Something to consider is guest posting. Guest posts introduce you and your affiliate partners to an authoritative site's audience. It also boosts your domain authority and can drive high-quality traffic to your site. Guest posting might be one of the older techniques in SEO, but it is still useful. If you plan your approach and submit thought-provoking guest posts that provide interesting takes, you will get those backlinks naturally.
Study the audience and content of your target site. The guest post should be helpful to them—if you want a backlink from an expert SEO blog, you need to provide content beyond the basics. Your post should provide information that the blog's audience would be unlikely to find elsewhere. Being intentional with your guest posts will get you that backlink, and it will also establish you as an authority in your field. Best of all, you direct high-quality traffic to your affiliate partner.
It is possible to balance search engine optimization with affiliate marketing. Aligning these two aspects involves understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each method, researching programs with a good ROI, and choosing one or two SEO partners to focus your efforts. Creating a series of posts or videos that incorporate your affiliate partner's products and services will help your audience see why you believe in this brand.
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